Interview with Mellen-Thomas Benedict
by Edie Weinstein Moser
What would it be like to "wake up dead"? Strange sort of question? Not for the man who "lived to tell" about his extraordinary adventure past the veil of what we call death. Mellen-Thomas Benedict was a self described "information freak" who drank in all manner of depressing news stories that pulled him into a vicious downward emotional and physical spiral that he now believes was a contributing factor in the cancer that took his life. His books, entitled Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Other Side and Journey Through the Light and Back will astound you as you learn about the adventure that speaks to the divine humanity and human divinity of which we are all participants, willing or not. In 1982, when Mellen was dying, he instructed his hospice caregiver to allow his body to remain untouched for 6 hours afterwards. What transpired as a result was what you will hear about during our conversation.
Wisdom: How did you perceive life before and after your NDE (Near Death Experience in 1982?
Mellen: I’m someone who really didn’t believe that there was a God and wasn’t interested, frankly. I had no religious foundation, except that I had spent years in a Catholic boarding school. I was a self employed artist, very self centered and I had a very shallow view of life. In fact, I believed that with all the Cold War stuff that was going on at the time, somehow, some way, this world would end in my lifetime. It seemed to be a fact that all the experts were seeking to prove at the time. It was something that was always at the back of my mind. I think a lot of people thought that way. I think the seed of my disease, as I learned later, was in my world view. My world view was crystallized by a photograph that was put out by well meaning ecology groups. It is still floating around in some publications. It was an aerial view of the city of Los Angeles, compared to a micro-photograph of a cancer cell. They were side by side, and were so stunningly similar that you immediately drew the conclusion, at least I did, that nature had somehow created a malignant cancer on Earth and it was humanity. In that moment, it crystallized my world view. Many years later, I developed terminal brain cancer that was incurable and inoperable at the time. People have to be careful about what they believe. I still meet people who believe that the world is going to end in their lifetime. I really try to spend a minute with them and ask "Do you really believe that? Do you want to believe that? Do you know what that is doing to you, believing that?" I don’t think people realize that world view is so crucial to the life they live and to their health.
I literally died believing that the world was a lost cause and that human-ity was a lost cause. It was with my experience with the Light, that had me ask "Why is humanity so dark and evil and doomed?" The Light sort of became a mandala of human souls. It was as if I was allowed to look at every one including my own. I was stunned to find out that I couldn’t see any evil or darkness. That changed my world view. In that moment, I could fall in love with humanity, which I saw from a series of questions I asked. I began to see that in fact, humanity is one of the most graceful beings on this planet. I got to see it from the Gaia point of view, which is looking at the Earth as a whole system and we are part of that system and not separate from it. I had never heard the word Gaia before and never thought about it before. Most people believe that humans are superior to everything and different from everything, when in fact, we are not. I was shown that in fact, there are more microbes in our body than there are cells. If you want to get down to what we are really made of, we are made of the Earth itself. We are graced to be this part of it.
My world changed dramatically. With every question I brought up about the end of the world, I was shown that there was hope and that this is just the beginning. The world is never going to end as people imagine. That was my biggest change; to see things from the Gaia perspective which added a wholeness that I never had. If you just see it from a scientific or spiritual point of view, or through mathematics, you are missing what the Universe is about. Can mathematics calculate love, compassion, touch? It’s best to have a full spectrum view, to see the whole rainbow instead of just part of the rainbow. We are created in it, with it and by it. This is something that humbles me to this day, that we are blessed to be the human part of this Universe and the human part of God, if you will.
Wisdom: Did anything prior to 1982 prepare you for what transpired?
Mellen: Not really. I wasn’t that interested until I became terminal and there wasn’t that much information available. I was from a small town and none of my friends were interested in this kind of stuff either. You know, once you look for something, you find a lot of it, but I wasn’t even looking. In my hospice, there was a small library and there was a book on world religions that I looked through. There were also a bunch of Christian books that I didn’t even bother looking at. I wasn’t interested in intellectual things at the time either. Not much preparation.
Wisdom: So did the Light feel like a living energy or entity in and of itself?
Mellen: Yes. I look at things from 3 levels now that I have had 27 years to go back to the Light and get more and more layers. I would say that my first experience was a "wonder child experience". It was wonderful. It was amazing. My first question when I was before the Light was "Are you God?" I didn’t believe in God at all. The Light is really, as I know now, the oversoul matrix of our system and the sum-total of everything we have ever been to this point. It is, itself, evolving as we are evolving, so the Light seems to know you. It knows you individually and discretely because your light is a direct part of it. I call it the Great Self. When I asked the Light "Are You God?" - and the light speaks to you in a way that you will understanding - the Light said to me "Who and what is not God?"
Immediately, my understanding of what was said to me, meant that if I tried to tell you who and what IS God, I would have to name everything in the Universe and that would take forever. It’s all God. Delving into that even deeper, it’s kind of a flimsy word. We have a rather narrow perception of what God is, being separate from us. In most organized religions, God is something in the sky somewhere, but in fact, it is not. We are a direct part of it and never separated from this wholeness. I now know that whatever your program is, whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian, the first thing you are going to see is your own projection of that, because that is how you are going to understand it.
P.M.H. Atwater had discovered me and I had never heard the term Near Death Experience, before I attended one of her lectures in 1985 and I thought "My God, that’s what happened to me!" She took me under her wing and introduced me to Dr. Ken Ring and others. They were amazed to hear my story. When I was with the light, I felt completely safe and a bit euphoric. If you can imagine being free of survival. Can you imagine the feeling of winning the lottery and you would never have to worry again? I then asked the Light to wait a minute since I had other questions and it said "Yes." At that moment, I realized that this experience was just as interactive as my life had been. Dr. Ken Ring and others had said that it was the first time someone ever reported that they had stopped the experience and realized that it was interactive. I never felt rushed or pushed or on some kind of Disneyland ride and I felt comfortable to have a conversation. It involved everything I could ever think of. I tell people that the death experience is an adventure; an interactive experience. Engage in it. If you are unconscious enough to think there is some pre-set paint by numbers experience, as certain books can tell you, that this is what’s going to happen when you die, then you can follow that course. I asked to see behind the veil and understand what I was seeing. That’s when it became interactive. I did see Jesus and angels and that shocked me. Those were projections from things early in my life. When I did see Jesus, and I write about this excessively in my book; it was an amazing experience to see the Christ. Even then, I asked "What does this really mean? What am I really seeing?" That’s when I entered into what I call in the book "the God stream of consciousness" that began in the presence and literally wound back into every religion that had ever been on Earth. All religions on Earth are connected and one came out of the other in a natural evolution that was easy to see. Then there came a point at which there were no people on the planet and so there were no Gods or images of Gods. That’s when I got the Gaia experience. As I would ask, it would be revealed and explain to me. It made natural and not supernatural sense to me.
Wisdom: Since you came out of this experience, you have created some beautiful poetry. Were you a poet prior?
Mellen: Yes, I was an artist and a poet. I tell people that my experience is what happens when an artist/poet has a Near Death Experience. I often wonder what happens when a mathematician or an accountant has an NDE. For them, it may all be in the numbers. That’s the uniqueness of it all. Each of us is a different facet of a multi-dimensional experience we are having. There really is only One of us. Once we wake up to this, then we really understand what the ancients were saying "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." That is yourself. How you treat yourself is how you treat other people.
Wisdom: Have you found that you now have a heightened ability to be a healing presence?
Mellen: I honestly believe and I understand that this is scientific now, that this is a natural ability in all living things to heal ourselves and others through our emissions of energy and thought. This can be explained in physics now, what they call psychic healing work. It can explained spiritually as well. I believe that everything from a grain of sand to a human being, has a frequency at the atomic level that emanatse life and regeneration. That’s why the ancients knew that certain stones when placed on certain organs would tend to bring the organs back up to normal and heal them. Humans can become very fine instruments for this kind of healing, because we have a brain that can focus. If you don’t have emotions, you can’t be a great healer. You have to feel love to create great power and so you find that some of the greatest healers have the greatest of compassion and big hearts and could put off a tremendous amount of energy which can be measured. I do believe that what most people say is a "psychic reading" isn’t really psychic at all, because it is mind reading. That’s of brain activity; like wireless communication. True psychic ability is at the base of our consciousness. Look at mothers and their children. I know when I was a kid, I wondered how my mother always knew what I was doing.
Wisdom: Why do we fear death?
Mellen: It’s what you could call "cultural hypnosis". It’s a function of the upper brain, mostly. It is a natural fear in that it seems to be a discontinuation of your story or path, which it really isn’t because you do continue on in different forms. If you talk to people, the fear of death is the fear of suffering or the fear of being abandoned and being separated by loved ones. The fear of death can be healthy because it helps you survive. It will only come about now, as wisdom rises on the planet, to understand that there is no death, really. Before my NDE, I was a rock climber and sky diver, because it was fun. After my NDE, I saw how valuable life is and how valuable being able to walk and think are. The thought of taking this gift that was given to me, which is life itself and hanging from the edge of a cliff or jumping out of an airplane to see what would happen, became silly. It was not a fear of death, it became a respect for life.
Wisdom: Is your intention to offer comfort for people as they face death - respecting it, but not fearing it?
Mellen: Yes. I have resisted putting out a book these many years. I’ve had offers yearly. My story wasn’t complete until now. I was told that it would be 20-25 years before my sharing would be of value to others and it has come to be that way. I was told never to sell my story. When a publishing company buys your story, you don’t own it anymore. They own the intellectual property. I have an agreement with the publishing company I am working with, that I own my story. I finally have found a publisher who understands my story.
Wisdom: I appreciate that you offer hope for the future that can shine brighter than the fears. That’s quite a gift.
Mellen: I was the last person to want to put up a website about me. From 1995 -2005, I gave up the whole thing and went into research and development. I didn’t answer letters or emails. I didn’t talk about the NDE at all. In that time, the story took on a life of its own. Why I put up my own site in 2005, I was getting letters and emails and by that time, the story had started mutating to all kinds of versions. My first website was called "The Real Mellen" and this is what really happened and that the other things were exaggerations at best. I get emails from people who tell me that the story has helped them or given them hope. That just humbles me. That is incredible and am amazed that the story has that kind of legs.
is the website for more information.
Edie Weinstein-Moser is a free-lance writer, speaker, interfaith minister and social worker. Her website is www.liveinjoy.org
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